‘Looking for missing money’ – NC auditor and treasurer launch investigation into Spring Lake’s finances

North Carolina

SPRING LAKE, N.C. (WNCN) – There’s new trouble for a Cumberland County town that has been the focus of past investigations.

The Spring Lake town hall shut down without an explanation earlier this week.

If you try to access the town hall, you will find the doors locked and a sign saying the building has been temporarily closed since July 12.

Consumer Investigator Steve Sbraccia learned it is shut down because the state auditor is conducting an investigation and there is no access to protect the integrity of documents inside the building.

Both State Auditor Beth Wood and State Treasurer Dale Folwell are concerned about the town’s finances.

This is not the first time Wood has looked at finances at Spring Lake.

In 2017, an audit found more than $360,000 in purchases violated town policies and another $122,000 purchases were questionable.

Now Wood’s office is at it again, telling the state’s local government commission there are financial questions.

“We are in there investigating and looking for missing money,” said Wood. “There are a lot of things going on.”

CBS 17 wanted to know what the mayor had to say.

Sbraccia tried to speak with him at his house but he was not willing to comment.

Although a drive-up window is available at town hall for things water bill payments, that doesn’t make some residents comfortable about what’s going on.

“I’m really worried,” said town resident Victor Mason. “I pay my taxes and if they’re not responsible or professional they should be taken out and put in some other people.”

The state treasurer said something is financially broken in Spring Lake.

“The city council passed a budget,” he said. “The fact is when the fund balance of Spring Lake, when the cash reserves have fallen so dramatically over the last two years it causes us to have concerns about where the money is or where it went.”

A hint about what might be happening came from Wood during the meeting of the local government commission when she referred to the Spring Lake city council.

“They’ve got a not-for-profit some of them started and it’s gotten them in a financial situation that’s just terrible,” said Wood.

Meanwhile, the treasurer said the local government commission may end up taking over the operation of Spring Lake finances when the audit is completed.

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